NEWS

Starting today, you can purchase a Karbonn Sparkle V even if you're in the UK. This is interesting because this device is part of the Android One lineup which got official in India in September. Thus, the Sparkle V is the first Android One phone to be sold in the UK. The Android One initiative was made public earlier this year during Google's developer conference. The smartphones in this lineup are primarily built for emerging markets, have specs put together by Google, and they run stock Android. Furthermore, they receive software updates straight from Android's maker. All of the three Android One handsets that have launched so far have the exact same innards - the Karbonn Sparkle V shares its specs with the Micromax Canvas A1 and the Spice Dream Uno. The Sparkle V features a 4.5-inch 480x854 touchscreen, a 5 MP rear camera with LED flash, a 2 MP front snapper, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of built-in storage, and microSD card support for expanding that. Running the show is a MediaTek MT6582 SoC with a 1.3 GHz quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU, and powering things up is a 1,700 mAh battery. The phone currently runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat, with the update to version 5.0 Lollipop reportedly coming by the end of January. Amazon UK is selling the Karbonn Sparkle V for £129.99, with free delivery. What's more, a Black Friday deal will see the price drop to just £99.99 in a couple of days. However, the original Moto G from last year, with a higher-res screen, more internal storage, and a bigger battery, can be had for £127.98. And this year's slightly updated Moto G goes for £139.95 at the same retailer. So the Karbonn Sparkle V just isn't as good of a buy as many would have expected. Source |...


Back in April, Xiaomi had big plans for 2014 in terms of expanding its reach internationally. The company then announced that it would enter ten new markets by the end of the year. These were supposed to be India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Turkey. While it has entered some of those countries already, Xiaomi won't be able to arrive in all of them this year. And it doesn't even want to anymore. In a change of strategy, Xiaomi will focus on India and Indonesia in 2014, two markets which it did enter this year. Xiaomi VP Hugo Barra said his company now wants to expand slowly, only entering a new market after it's brought all of its products to the previous one, and so on. So hopefully we'll see the Mi 4 (pictured above) officially on sale in more places soon. Scaling back its international expansion is apparently the smart thing to do. So the next country in which Xiaomi will sell its wares will be Brazil, but its arrival there will only happen in the first half of 2015. After that, it will finally make it to Thailand, Russia, Mexico, and Turkey, though for these markets we don't even get a rough...


A report posted by Taiwan's Industrial and Commercial Times states that the iPhone 5c production will likely stop in the middle next year. The company did not cite any specific reason for the withdraw of the model, but dwindling interest seems like a likely explanation. In September the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 was introduced, along with the iPhone 6 Plus phablet and stores still offer the 5s model for as little as $99 in certain deals. So saving just $100 on the plastic iPhone 5c is not a viable option for many. The 5C was unveiled last year as a low-cost alternative to the very popular iPhone 5s and it is basically a plastic-dressed iPhone 5. Statistics show that during the last quarter of 2013, the device was doing quite alright, even outselling Samsung premium devices on certain carrier contracts, like AT&T and Sprint. Sales of the 5c however failed to meet initial expectations and have slowly been dwindling ever since. It seems that more and more users are looking towards the premium iPhone 5s if they need a lower-cost/more compact iOS phone now. Even though the iPhone 5c was expected to be geared towards budget users, with its regular retail price set at about $550 was never actually set to be a budget smartphone. It never stood out as a "cheap" phone and was quite out of reach to developing markets. Without seeing a detailed report of Apple`s sales, which is unlikely, given that they only put out total numbers, it is really hard to accurately determine how successful the Apple iPhone 5c actually was. One thing is for sure though, the enormous demand for this year's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models and the availability of the 5s in retail will make sure no one misses the iPhone 5c. Source |...


Black Friday around the corner and it's also nearly time for the holiday shopping spree. Our last smartphone buyer's guide for 2014 will hopefully come in handy when you out there trying to find a smartphone present for your closest ones...


Just a few weeks after admitting that it did not price the device correctly, Amazon has slashed the price of the unlocked version of 32GB Fire Phone to $199. The company is still including one year of free Amazon Prime (worth $99), a service that allows you to get unlimited, free shipping upgrades on various purchases without a minimum-order balance, stream unlimited music, movies, and TV shows from the company's library, as well as access to one free Kindle book to borrow each month. Originally unveiled back in June this year, the smartphone was initially priced at $199 with a two-year AT&T contract or $649 unlocked. A few months later, the price was dropped to 99 cents with a two-year contract, or $449 unlocked. The Fire Phone runs on Fire OS, a heavily modified version of Android with no Google services. It packs in a Snapdragon 800 chipset with a 2.2 GHz quad-core CPU and a 4.7-inch 720p LCD display, face-tracking IR cameras, 13MP camera at the back, 2.1 MP camera at the front, 2GB RAM, and a 2,400 mAh battery. Source |...


In mid-August the Sony Xperia M2 and Xperia M2 Dual made the jump to Android 4.4.2 KitKat and now Sony has nudged them to the last KitKat, 4.4.4. The version number jumps to 18.3.1.C.0.21 form the earlier 18.3.C.0.40. That old version introduced a sound delay bug, which has been fixed with the new software. There were also reports of fast battery drain, but it's not clear if that has been fixed yet. The Xperia M2 Aqua is a waterproof variant of the base M2, but there are no reports of it getting the update just yet. Sony released open-source builds for the 18.3.1.C.0.21 build for all M2 variants, including the Xperia M2, about a week ago so the rollout should be quick. There's no word from Sony on a Lollipop update for its lineup outside of the premium Xperia Z...


Today Microsoft announced the arrival of the Lumia 535 to the Indian market. For its $150 price (INR 9,200) you get a 5" IPS LCD display a Snapdragon 200 CPU, 1 GB of RAM, as well as two 5 MP cameras, which as a whole is really good bang for the buck. The device is powered by Windows Phone 8.1 and comes preloaded with Jabong, Flipkart, Paytm and Box TV apps, each of them bundled with an exclusive deal. Jabong offers a total of INR 6,000 off on their online purchases over a 3 months period, while Flipkart and Box Tv are respectively giving device owners INR 1,500 worth of eBooks and a 2 month free Box TV subscription. Other goodies include 500 MB of free mobile data traffic for Vodafone subscribers, not yet using an internet package, as well as a total of INR 600 extra charge value from Paytm over a period of 4 moths. The Dual SIM version of the device will hit the market this week with a wide array of color choices: bright green, bright orange, white, dark grey, cyan and...


It's been nearly a month since the last major Lollipop-related leak for the Samsung Galaxy S5 - but that was only screenshots and a video demo. If you're really desperate to take Android 5.0 for a spin and have a Galaxy S5 from Sprint you can now download a leaked, preliminary version. The XDA-Developers member who posted the leak has tried out basic functionality, including calling and texting, and it works. There might still be things that don't work though. Note that installing this will wipe all data stored in the phone, so make a fresh backup before you install the new ROM. You'll need Odin (3.04 through 3.07) to flash the ROM, it has been rooted with Chainfire. Head over to the XDA thread for more details and the download link (it's a 1.3GB file). You can also have a look at some screenshots from an earlier build (no word on the rumored theming functionality though). Source |...


Motorola just announced a few sweet offers for Moto X, starting December 1. At precisely 11:00 AM CET be ready to hit their Cyber Monday landing page (at the source link below for $140 discount on a contract-free Moto X. In addition the nice folks at Motorola are also throwing in a 30% discount on all accessories with the smartphone purchase. The promotion is tempting bringing the device down to a little over $300 for a completely unlocked unit. If however this still seems to pricy you could still sign up for a 2 year contract with AT&T or Verizon and get it for as little as a penny. The Cyber Monday promotion is, as always limited to 5:00 p.m. CET or until supplies last. This does however have all the right ingredients to turn into a frenzy and quickly swipe the whole stock out of existence or crash the servers so be sure to act quickly if you fancy a new shiny Moto X before the...


A new player is apparently joining the market with the announcement of an upcoming smartphone, named i8. The German company sent out a press release describing the rather interesting device as a "high-end hardware for a mid-ranged price". The first impression we inevitable get from looking at the official renderings is that the device is quite oddly shaped. The body, however appears quite slick and nicely designed and it's said to feature brushed aluminum in either black or coffee color. But without a physical unit not much can be judged about material and production quality yet. The cited specifications are quite thorough, with the exception of no specific processor information. The smartphone will feature a 5" 1920x1080 pixel Super AMOLED display and 80GB of onboard storage, which is quite spacious. At the core there will be an octa-core processor clocked at 2.1GHz. This is however quite unspecific and could possibly be an implementation of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, which seems likely given the Samsung-like Super AMOLED display, or perhaps a variation of a MediaTek MT6795, but this is all speculation at this point. Other notable feature on the device include 3GB of RAM, a 13 MP HD rear camera (28mm Wide-angle, fast low-light F1.8, Sony CMOS sensor) and 8 MP front camera and a 3100mAh battery. A lot of other bells and whistles are included in the press release and the i8 will supposedly come equipped with GPS, Bluetooth v4.0, electronic compass, gyroscope, HDMI 1.4 with 3D support, USB port, NFC and WiFi/ LTE (4G) wireless. Linshof also states, that the device will be running Android 5.0 Lollipop with an accelerated Linshof UI. The company stresses quite a lot on the benefits of this software environment, boasting things like: "No added trialware. No in-phone advertisements—the clean and lean system has been carefully tweaked for this specific hardware." Linshof UI will supposedly also feature an optional tile-based layout, as seen in the renditions of the i8. The press release announces a price tag of precisely $380 and the Linshof website features a release date of Q1 2015. All of this does sound quite interesting, especially given the different design concept, but it should definitely be taken with a grain of salt. Linshof is largely unheard of and has little to none online presence with their Facebook page, for example, existing since only November 19. It also appears rather odd, that their website features an equally designed and almost identically specked 10" tablet device, which is mentioned nowhere in the press release. For the time being we will just have to wait and see if this turns into more than a mere Photoshop exercise and the company actually releases its...


OnePlus One will launch in India next week, on December 2. As we know already, the powerful yet affordable smartphone and its accessories will be exclusively sold through Amazon in the vast market. Official pricing in India for the smartphone is yet to be revealed. OnePlus One will be offered via India-specific invites. Users will be able to register their interest in obtaining one on the device's Indian product page. We noticed that customers in India will have 48 hours to utilize their invite. OnePlus One invites in for other markets typically last for 24 hours. In order to mark the launch of the smartphone, OnePlus and the retail giant released a promo video starring the Amazon India's country manager and the CEO of the Chinese company. See it below. Source 1 | Source...


The manufacturer of rugged smartphones Sonim took the wraps of the XP7 Android 4.4 KitKat smartphone. The newcomer is said to be the most rugged smartphone with 4G LTE connectivity on board. Sonim XP7 features shock and impact resistance above military specs. The handset has IP68 rating (up to 6.5 feet of water for 30 minutes) in addition to being dirt, mud, sand, and dust-proof. The device can handle extreme heat and cold as well. Sonim backs its creation with a three-year comprehensive warranty, which covers accidental damage as well. Specifications of Sonim XP7 include Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC with 1.2GHz quad-core CPU, a gig of RAM, and 16GB of built-in memory. The device offers full connectivity suite headed by 4G LTE support. The display of the handset is a 4" WVGA unit, which can be operated with gloves. Users will be able to easily view the content on the screen even in extremely bright environment. An 8MP main camera is in charge of capturing memories, while a 1MP front-facing unit will handle video conversations. The handset features a 19mm audio speaker with 103dB of output. Physical measures of Sonim XP7 are 137mm x 72.1mm x 20.8mm, while its weight tips the scale at 290 grams. The massive 4,800mAh battery of the handset is rated at offering 1,000 hours of standby and 40 hours of talk time. Sonim is offering the XP7 through an Indiegogo campaign. The handset's $578 price tag includes a water-proof Bluetooth headset and a $49 prepaid SIM for the first 500 people who order it. The XP7 will reach customers in March 2015. Source 1 | Source 2 ...


Sony's not doing too well, at least in certain areas - mobile devices being one of those. So the company has decided to trim its lineup, in hopes to eventually make a profit. The loss-making corporation won't mind if sales take a hit, even by as much as 30%, in both TVs and smartphones - as long as these units become profitable. This means Sony won't be focusing on gaining market share anymore, not in TVs and smartphones at least. This is probably a good idea since it doesn't have that much smartphone market share right now anyway. The lineup trimming won't happen overnight, though. Sony is expected to give the public more details about its plans for the mobile division by the end of March 2015, so we're probably only going to see the effects of the new strategy by this time next year. The company's image sensor business, however, is doing very well, and sales are projected to grow by 70% in the next period. Sony sensors are increasingly being used in mobile devices, both by Apple but also by many up-and-coming Chinese smartphone...


2014 is on track to become the first year in which iPad sales decline when compared to the previous year. Despite the fact that Android tablets have gained a lot of traction recently, always eating away at Apple's market share in the tablet space, this has never happened before - Apple was able to grow its tablet sales year-on-year, even if only slightly. But if a new report from market research firm IDC is to be believed, this year will be special for the iPad maker - and not in a good way. IDC projects iPad sales of 64.9 million for the whole year, which would represent a 12.7% decline compared to 2013. The entire tablet market won't be doing as great as last year, though. Overall growth in tablet sales will be just 7.2% year-on-year, while it was 52.5% in 2013 compared to 2012. The reason for the slowdown of this space is that people replace their tablets much later than smartphones. The upgrade cycle for tablets is akin to that for computers. Originally the analysts expected people to replace tablets every 2-3 years, but it turns out that many consumers are holding on to old hardware for much longer than that. Apparently Apple keeping most of its older tablets updated to the newest versions of iOS has something to do with this. On the other hand, people are increasingly using their smartphones to do things they would have done on tablets previously. And the great success of phablets can't have been good for tablet sales either - it's plausible that some people prefer buying just a phablet instead of both a smartphone and a tablet. Source |...


Xiaomi Redmi Note, a powerful yet affordable phablet, will be officially launching in India on December 2. Just like other Xiaomi models the stock will be limited and users will be able to buy it only if they have already registered their interest online in advance. The registration process is now open and will last until December 1. On the following day the first 50,000 registered users will be able to buy the device. Flipkart is offering the octa-core flavor of the Xiaomi Redmi Note. It has a MediaTek chipset and we recently reviewed it. Airtel will be carrying the 4G-enabled Xiaomi Redmi Note, which is based on the Snapdragon 400 chipset. The non-LTE Redmi Note costs INR 8,999 or $145, while the Redmi Note 4G on Airtel costs INR 9,999 or $161. Both will launch this December in India. Thanks, Saravanan, for the tip! Source 1 | Source...


A strategic cooperation deal was signed today between Ubuntu and Meizu in the Chinese manufacturer's headquarters. The agreement sets joint goals to build and promote a new version of the Meizu's Flyme OS, which is based on Ubuntu touch software and an application ecosystem to go along with it. Few specifics were provided, but Meizu expects the first MX phones with the new OS to hit consumer markets in both China and Europe in Q1 2015. Although it is still unclear which models will be getting the overhaul, it is safe to assume that the company's flagship MX 4 will be among them. At the MWC 2014 the two companies presented a prototype of the new device line based on the MX3 hardware. Unfortunately, after this announcement fans were left clueless as to whether their excitement was justified or not. Ubuntu touch has long been in the works, but has not had any real implementations up to date. The platform itself is quite an interesting brain child of Canonical Ltd. The main idea behind it is a uniform kernel and set of base technologies that form a cross device application platform. What this implies is a high level of uniformity and compatibility, allowing you to use pretty much the same set of applications, both on mobile and desktop devices. To further add to the excitement, Ubuntu touch also promises a full desktop experience and perhaps even in the future a full desktop Ubuntu session running straight from the phone or tablet once hooked to a bigger screen. Since Meizu is also working closely with AliBaba and using their cloud services it also seems logical that any possible future models, powered by Ubuntu Touch will retain the Flyme OS functionality, look and feel and the two might be blended in a unique user UI experience. The announcement was met with a lot of fan anticipation, which could prove the future strategic value behind the partnership. Source |...


TouchWiz gets flamed a lot for its looks, but what if Samsung enabled themes? Sony has them, CyanogenMod has them, many Android customizations do - they offer the ability to quickly change the look of the device and often goes beyond just changing the wallpaper and icons. A new theme option in TouchWiz A Themes setting screen is visible in photos of a Galaxy S5 running a leaked Android 5.0 Lollipop version. It's not clear how extensive the customizations via the Themes will be or which devices will get the new functionality - presumably the current and last year's Galaxy S and Galaxy Note, the Galaxy Alphas too. Another change is that the S Finder button has been moved to the upper left corner and the Quick Connect button is gone. This will save some space in the notification area. Source (in Italian) |...


The dual-SIM version of the Samsung Galaxy A5 is now listed on the company's official website in China. It is selling for $420 (CNY 2,599). The price is a bit steep compared to the competition from Xiaomi and Meizu. The Meizu MX4 retails for $292 (CNY 1,799) as does the Xiaomi Mi 4, which recently underwent a price cut. The Galaxy A5 is the latest member of Samsung's upper mid-range family of smartphones with a steel frame. It was announced almost a month ago and packs 1.2GHz quad-core CPU and 2GB of RAM. It is built around a 5" Super AMOLED 720p display and at the back, there's a 13MP snapper with LED flash. Samsung is yet to list the smaller, but similarly built Galaxy A3 on its website. The company seems to be on track and will launch it very soon. In the meantime, Samsung is also preparing an international launch, but at the moment details are scarce. Source |...


Panasonic announced that it will begin offering the DMC-CM1 smartphone in the United Kingdom on December 1. The Android handset features a highly capable 1" camera sensor, which is seven times larger than the typical smartphone solutions these days. Initially, the Panasonic DMC-CM1 was going to be offered only in France and Germany. The Japanese manufacturer cites "high demand" as the reason to bring the imaging powerhouse to the UK. Panasonic will sell the DMC-CM1 through a handful of specialty camera stores. The company is keen on marketing the device as camera with phone functionality rather than the other way around. Official pricing for the UK is yet to be confirmed, though we are certain that the gadget won't be cheap. It is listed for €899 in France and Germany. Hardware highlights of Panasonic DMC-CM1 include Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC, 4.7" 1080p display, 2GB of RAM, full connectivity suite, and Android 4.4 KitKat. In addition to the beefy censor, the handset's camera packs f/2.8 Leica-branded lens and 4K video capture....

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